FCC Chairman Genachowski to join Aspen Institute as senior fellow

Julius Genachowski, chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, will join the Aspen Institute as a senior fellow, the Washington think tank announced Monday.

The announcement of Genachowski’s next move after a four-year tenure as President Obama’s head telecom regulator removes another barrier to the nomination of the next chair.

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Aspen didn’t specify when Genachowski would leave the FCC, saying his official resignation will be in “coming weeks.” But people familiar with the thinking of White House officials say Obama advisers are close to picking a replacement.

Former Obama transition team member and industry executive Tom Wheeler is seen as a leading candidate. He received a political boost last week when left-leaning telecom policy experts said they support Wheeler, even though he has served as the head of cable and wireless lobbying trade groups. Wheeler is a venture capitalist, and helped Obama, a friend, on campaign fundraising and strategy on telecom policy issues during the 2008 campaign and transition.

Among those endorsing Wheeler in a letter to the president was Susan Crawford, a former Obama adviser on policy issues, who is particularly critical of the lax regulatory oversight that has led to monopoly power in cable and telecom businesses in many U.S. cities.

At Aspen, Genachowski will advise on communications policy issues. The institution often serves as a first stop for senior FCC officials leaving the agency. He will be fifth in a line of FCC chairmen (two Democrats, two Republicans) to assume a senior fellowship there, the group said.

“The [Aspen] Institute has an unparalleled ability to convene business, government, and non-profit leaders to address the effect of digital technologies on many of the world’s most vexing problems, and I’m looking forward to being involved in that effort,” Genachowski said in a statement.

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